by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,142,515 words
This page describes Kashyapa Absolved of Sins which is chapter 11 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the eleventh chapter of the Venkatacala-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
[Kāśyapa’s Absolution of Great Sins through the Holy Bath in Svāmipuṣkariṇī]:—
Śrī Sūta said:
1. Henceforth, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, I shall tell you in details a great and sacred story concerning the splendid Svāmipuṣkariṇī.
2. Formerly a certain Brāhmaṇa named Kāśyapa had his holy bath in this auspicious and most excellent Tīrtha and he was liberated from a great sin leading to (his fall into) hell.
The sages said:
3-4. O sage, what sin did this Brāhmaṇa named Kāśyapa commit? What was the sin from which he was liberated instantaneously by taking holy bath in the excellent Tīrtha here? O Sūta, kindly narrate this to us who faithfully listen to it. No thirst can remain in the persons who are satisfied by the nectar of your words.
Śrī Sūta said:
5. I shall recount the legendary story illustrating the greatness of Śrī Svāmipuṣkariṇī. It is destructive of the sins of those who read it.
6-7. Formerly there was a king named Parīkṣit. He was the son of Abhimanyu. He lived at Hastināpura protecting the earth righteously. Once while that king was engaged in hunting, he roamed about in the forest. The king who was sixty years old became afflicted with hunger and thirst.
8-9. He was eagerly searching for a deer that had vanished. The excellent king saw a sage engrossed in meditation. He asked, “A certain deer has been hit by me in this forest, O sage, with an arrow just now. O learned one, it was frightened and has fled. Was it seen by you?”
10-12. The sage was engaged in meditation. Further he was observing the vow of silence. Hence he did not sayanything. With the tip of his bow the king lifted a dead serpent and placed it on the shoulders of that great sage angrily. Then he returned to the city.
The sage had a son named Śṛṅgin. He had a friend named Kṛśa, an excellent Brāhmaṇa. The friend named Kṛśa said to his companion Śṛṅgin:
13. “Friend, your father wears a dead serpent over his shoulders now. You need not be proud. You need not be angry. It is in vain.”
14-15. Śṛṅgin became furious and desired to curse the king: “The foolish and ignorant person who placed the dead serpent on my father will die within seven days on being bitten by the serpent Takṣaka.”
The son of the sage cursed Parīkṣit, the descendant of Subhadrā, thus.
16. On hearing that the king had been cursed by his son, his father, the eminent sage named Śamīka, said to his son Śṛṅgin:
17. “Why have you cursed the king, the protector of all the people? How can we live peacefully in the world full of anarchy?
18-19. Anger gives rise to sin. Happiness is attained through kindness and mercy. He who by means of patience and forbearance dispels surging anger, obtains supreme happiness in this as well as the other world. Indeed, only those persons who are endowed with forgiveness obtain the highest good.”
20-21. Then Śamīka told his disciple named Gauramukha: “O Gauramukha, go to king Parīkṣit and report to him about this curse uttered by my son, namely the biting by Takṣaka, the king (of serpents). O highly intelligent one, return to my presence quickly.”
22. On being told thus by Śamīka Gauramukha went to the king. After approaching him he said to king Parīkṣit, the descendant of Subhadrā:
23-25. “On seeing the dead serpent placed on his father’s shoulders by you, Śṛṅgin, the son of Śamīka, has angrily cursed you: ‘On the seventh day from today the son of Abhimanyu shall be bitten by Takṣaka, the great serpent, and shall immediately be burned by the fire of his poison.’ O king, Śṛṅgin, the son of that sage, has cursed you thus. It is to tell you this that bis. father has deputed me to you.”
26-27. After saying this to the king Gauramukha returned in a hurry. After the departure of Gauramukha the king who was grief-stricken, got a Maṇḍapa (hall) built in the middle of Gaṅgā. It was so high that it touched the clouds. It was supported by a single pillar.
28-29. With great concentration he prepared himself to quell the poison of Takṣaka through physicians conversant with medicinal herbs and the knowers of Mahāgāruḍa Mantra. The king endowed with great devotion to Viṣṇu sat within the lofty Maṇḍapa accompanied by the most excellent ones among many celestial sages, Brāhmaṇas, sages and saintly kings.
30. At that time, a certain Brāhmaṇa named Kāśyapa, the most excellent one among those who were experts in the use of spells (Mantras), proceeded (towards the royal abode) in order to save the king from the greatly virulent poison of Takṣaka.
31-34. The leading Brāhmaṇa who was very poor and was desirous of wealth (came to that place) on the seventh day. In the meantime Takṣaka also came there in the guise of a Brāhmaṇa. On the way he saw Kāśyapa and spoke to him, “O Brāhmaṇa, O great sage, where are you going now? Tell me.”
On being asked thus, the Brāhmaṇa Kāśyapa told Takṣaka: “Today Takṣaka will be burning the great king Parīkṣit with the fire of his poison. I am now going to him in order to quell it.” On being told thus Takṣaka spoke to that Brāhmaṇa once again:
35-37. “I am Takṣaka, O excellent Brāhmaṇa. One who is bitten by me cannot be cured even in a hundred years, even by means of ten thousand Mahā Mantras. If you are now competent to treat one who is bitten by me, I shall bite a tree several Yojanas high. You revive it. Then I shall conclude that you are adequately competent (to quell my poison), O Brāhmaṇa.”
After saying thus Takṣaka bit that tree.
38-42. That exceedingly lofty tree was reduced to ash. Before this incident a certain man had climbed that tree. He too was burnt by the fire of Takṣaka’s poison. Both of them, Kāśyapa and Takṣaka, were not aware of that man.
Kāśyapa vowed within the hearing of Takṣaka, “Let all the Brāhmaṇas and others witness the power of my Mantra now.” After saying this Kāśyapa, the most excellent one among those conversant with spells, resuscitated that tree which had been reduced to ash by the fire of poison. He brought it back to life by means of the power of his spell. That man also was revived along with the tree. Thereupon, Takṣaka spoke to Kāśyapa, that expert in the use of spells:
43-46. “O Brāhmaṇa, whatever you do, see that the words of the sage do not turn out to be false. I shall give you twice the amount that the king is likely to give you. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, return immediately.” After saying thus Takṣaka gave him the most valuable gems and made the Brāhmaṇa Kāśyapa who was well-versed in spells, return (to his own place).
With the vision born of knowledge Kāśyapa found out that the king was destined to live only for a short period. Having obtained the gems from Takṣaka Kaśyapa [Kāśyapa?] quietly went back to his hermitage.
Takṣaka called together all the serpents at that very moment and told them:
47. “Ye all assume the guise of sages and go to that king immediately. Give fruits as presents to Parīkṣit.”
48-51. Saying “So be it”, all the serpents offered fruits unto the king. Takṣaka assumed the form of a worm and hid himself in a certain jujube fruit ready to bite the king.
King Parīkṣit distributed all the fruits given by the serpents in the guise of Brāhmaṇas to the ministers and elderly gentlemen. But out of curiosity he took a big fruit in his hand. At that time the sun was about to set.
52-55. The men present there, all the Brāhmaṇas and the kings, said to one another, “May the words of the sage not be false”(?). Even as they were saying thus, a red worm was clearly seen by king Parīkṣit and by all the others. The king said, “Will this worm bite me now, O excellent Brāhmaṇas?” Saying thus he placed that fruit upon his neck along with the worm. Takṣaka who was residing in the fruit placed upon his neck suddenly came out of that fruit and coiled round the body of the king.
56-59. When the king was encircled by Takṣaka, all those who were at the sides fled out of fear. Afterwards, O Brāhmaṇas, the king was immediately burned and reduced to ash along with the palatial building by the powerful fire of the poison of Takṣaka.
Along with the priests the ministers of that king performed the obsequies of the king and crowned his son named Janamejaya in the kingdom with a desire to protect the whole world.
The Brāhmaṇa, the excellent sage named Kāśyapa who had come to save the king from Takṣaka, was censured by all the people.
60-62. He wandered over all the territories. He was rebuked and reviled by all good people. He did not get any place to stay in any village or in a hermitage. To whichever land he went he was driven out from those places by the general public. Then he sought refuge in (Sage) Śākalya. Kāśyapa who was censured by good people, bowed down to sage Śākalya. He intimated this to the noble-souled Śākalya:
63-67. O Śākalya, O favourite of Hari, O holy lord conversant with all types of pious activities, the sages, Brāhmaṇas, friends and others censure me. I do not know the reason why meṇ censure me. Neither Brāhmaṇa-slaughter, nor drinking of liquor, neither defiling the bed of the preceptor, nor stealing, nor the sin of associating with these (sinful) people have been committed by me. O sage, none of the other types of sins too has been committed by me. Yet, people, kinsmen and others censure me for nothing. If you know the fault committed by me, O Śākalya, tell that to me.
When this was said by Kāśyapa, the great sage named Śākalya meditated for a short while and spoke thus to Kāśyapa, O excellent Brāhmaṇas:
[Pious and Virtuous Acts Enunciated by Śākalya]:—
68-73. You went to save the great king Parīkṣit from Takṣaka. But on your way you were prevented by Takṣaka.
They call that person a Brahmaghātaka (i.e. slayer of a Brāhmaṇa) who is competent to treat a person afflicted by poison or sickness but does not save such a person in this world. Whether it is due to anger, lust, fear, covetousness, jealousy or delusion, O leading Brāhmaṇa, if a person does not save a man afflicted due to poison or other ailments (he has no way of atonement). A Brāhmaṇa-slayer, a drink-addict, a thief, a defiler of preceptor’s bed and one who is defiled by associating with these—none of these has any way of expiation.
There is some kind of atonement (from sin) for a person who sells his daughter, who sells horses as well as one who is ungrateful. Such expiation is found in scriptures. But the person who, though competent, does not save one who is afflicted by poisoṇ or ailments, has no mode of atonement. Even by means of ten thousand kinds of expiations he cannot be saved from his sins.
74-78. No righteous person should take food with him in the same row. He should not converse with him. He should not look at that man at any place. Merely by talking to him one will incur great sins.
That great king Parīkṣit was very virtuous and had spotless reputation. He was a devotee of Viṣṇu. He was a great Yogin and protector of the four castes. He had heard devoutly the story of Hari from the son of Vyāsa (i.e. Śuka). You did not protect him. At the words (i.e. request) of Takṣaka you returned. Therefore, you are blamed by leading Brāhmaṇas and kinsmen.
Although the end of the life of the great king Parīkṣit was imminent, treatment must have been administered by learned men till the death (of the patient).
79-81. “As long as the vital airs ding to the throat of a mam about to die, it is necessary that treatment should be continued. The way of Kāla (Death)is crooked.” This verse has been quoted by persons who have mastered the science of medicine. Therefore, though you were capable of treating, you did not administer medicine. You returned from half the way. Hence you are despised.
On being told by Śākalya thus Kāśyapa said:
82-84. O sage of holy rites, tell the means of quelling this sin of mine, so that my kinsmen and friends will accept me once again. O Śākalya, O favourite of Hari, have pity on me.
On being requested by Kāśyapa thus, Śākalya the eminent sage meditated for a short while and spoke thus to Kāśyapa out of sympathy:
85. I shall tell you the means for quelling this sin. That should be carried out by you immediately. Do not delay, O Brāhmaṇa.
87-88. On that meritorious holy mountain Śeṣagiri which is bowed to by Suras and Asuras and which destroys the sins of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter, drinking of liquor and stealing of gold, there is (a lake named) Svāmipuṣkariṇī, the dispeller of all sins. It is to the north of Śrīnivāsa. It yields auspiciousness.
89-92a. Go to the mountain Veṅkaṭādri. Take your holy bath in the auspicious Svāmipuṣkariṇī with due Saṅkalpa (i.e. ceremonious pronouncement of one’s resolve). Visit Hari, Lord Varāha, go along the western bank, go to Han’s temple and there, in accordance with the injunctions, visit Śrīnivāsa residing on Svarṇācala. Worship the Lord Supreme, the bestower of immunity from fear, the Lord holding the conch and the discus, the Lord adorned with the garland of sylvan flowers. On visiting him you will be rid of your sins. Do not be in any doubt, O Brāhmaṇa.
92b-94a. On being told thus by Śākalya, Kāśyapa, the eminent sage, went to the prominent mountain Veṅkaṭa Śaila, bowed down to by Suras and Asuras. He took his holy bath in the auspicious Puṣkariṇī with all requisite observances. The Brāhmaṇa Kāśyapa who was a master of medicine and medical science, regained normalcy (i.e. his previous status).
94b-96. All the kinsmen, O Brāhmaṇas, honoured Kāśyapa, the excellent Brāhmaṇa, in the way proper to him (saying) “There is no doubt. You are worthy of being honoured.”
Thus, O Brāhmaṇas, the greatness of Veṅkaṭācala has been recounted to you. One who listens to this with devotion is honoured in the world of Viṣṇu.
Footnotes and references:
This story is adopted from Mbh, Ādi Chs. 40-43. The Mbh story is a Purāṇic way of telling how Takṣaka tried to take political revenge on Arjuna’s grandson for his (Arjuna’s) driving out the Nāgas from their Fatherland, the Khāṇḍava forest.